Monday, 27 February 2012

Anti windfarm astroturfers exposed in Parliament

John Murphy MP

This story comes to us from Australia where the Independent Australia has conducted an investigation into the Australian Landscape Guardians and the Waubra Foundation.  Dr. Sara Laurie, of the Waubra Foundation, attended the 2010 Society for Wind Vigilance symposium in Kingston, Ontario.

 Here's how Wikipedia defines the term astroturf:

Astroturfing is a form of advocacy in support of a political, organizational, or corporate agenda, designed to give the appearance of a grassroots movement.  The term is a derivation of Astroturf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass.

The story uses the speech of John Murphy MP in the Federal Parliament House of Representatives dated February 15, 2012 (Hansard)

Independent Australia
February 17, 2012

The New South Wales government has already taken the scientific evidence for granted on coal seam gas extraction but, like its Liberal counterpart in Victoria, seems intent on standing in the way of businesspeople who want to develop wind power to feed into the electricity grid. Despite the lack of any evidence to support any harmful effects of wind farming, the New South Wales government has given the power of veto to anyone living within two kilometres of a proposed wind farm. These governments seem to have been unduly influenced by climate change deniers and sceptics, in particular the Australian Landscape Guardians, whose stated philosophy is to safeguard the landscape from ‘inappropriate development’.

In an article published on the Independent Australia website on 24 July last year, investigative journalist Sandi Keane assembled some of the publicly available information on the opaque Landscape Guardians.

They are modelled on the British Coastal Guardians and Country Guardians, who are associated with the nuclear power industry in the United Kingdom. In their opposition to wind farms, the Landscape Guardians do not mention the landscape but have discovered a previously unheard of medical condition that they call ‘wind turbine syndrome’. They claim that wind farms cause sleep problems, headaches, dizziness, nausea, exhaustion, anxiety, anger, irritability, depression, tinnitus and concentration problems, and, astonishingly, they cause children to refuse to go to school. It’s the truth!

The Landscape Guardians have set up a front called the Waubra Foundation, which is not based at Waubra but opposes the Waubra wind farm. Its so-called medical director, Sarah Laurie, a non-practising, unregistered doctor living in South Australia, claims that infrasound from wind turbines causes these problems. Most of my constituents at times suffer from almost all of these symptoms, although there is no wind farm anywhere near my inner-city electorate. Simon Chapman, Professor in Public Health at the University of Sydney, says that these symptoms are experienced by millions of Australians.

It is important to note that the Waubra Foundation is a powerful, well-resourced and growing anti-wind-power lobby group. Peter Mitchell, founder and Chairman of the Waubra Foundation, helped set up and fund the Australian Landscape Guardians. He is also spokesman for the Western Plains Landscape Guardians. Another director, Kathy Russell, is Vice-President of the Australian Landscape Guardians, Vice-President of the Victorian Landscape Guardians and spokesperson for the Western Plains, Mount Pollock Landscape Guardians and the Barrabool Hills Landscape Guardians. Yet another director, tycoon Tony Hodgson—as the Murdoch press calls him—helped fund the campaign against the Collector wind farm in New South Wales, just up the road from Canberra, and he is involved with the Booroowa Landscape Guardians to stop a $400 million wind farm proposed near Rugby and Booroowa in the south of the state. The Hon. Dr Michael Wooldridge, the former Howard government minister, is also a director.

Sandi Keane found that the foundation has no physical address in Waubra and indeed appears to have no local Waubra residents on its board. The address is a post-office box in South Melbourne, the same address as that of the Australian Landscape Guardians and Peter Mitchell.

The Landscape Guardians are well-known climate sceptics and deniers linked to the Liberal Party and the Institute of Public Affairs. They have a particularly close association with the IPA’s Australian Environment Foundation, which is more interested in logging trees than conserving them. The Institute of Public Affairs has been giving its opinion on climate change for decades now on behalf of its supporters—Billiton; Western Mining; Caltex; Esso Australia, a subsidiary of Exxon; Shell; and Woodside Petroleum—and it also receives funding from Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd.

While the Waubra Foundation appears unconcerned about the landscape of wind farms, its only agenda is the so-called ‘infrasound problems’ caused by wind turbines. Peter Mitchell successfully objected to the number of turbines proposed for the Stockyard Hill wind farm near Beaufort in Victoria. He also successfully had them removed from the ridge that he could see from his property. Sandi Keane found also that Peter Mitchell has interests in the fossil fuel industry. These include as founding chairman of the Moonie Oil Company Ltd and chairman or director of similar companies including Clyde Petroleum plc, Avalon Energy Inc., North Flinders Mines Ltd and Paringa Mining & Exploration plc, most now delisted on the Australian Stock Exchange.

According to Lowell Resources Funds Management Pty Ltd, Mitchell’s experience is derived from over 25 years involvement in companies that explored for, developed and financed gold, uranium, coal and base metal mines, oil and gas fields and pipeline systems in Australia and overseas. He has been chairman of Lowell Pty Ltd, the ultimate parent company of both Lowell Capital Ltd and Lowell Resources Funds Management Pty Ltd, a specialist fund investing in emerging mining and energy companies, since taken over by Future Corporation Australia Ltd.

Paul Miskelly, who represents both the Australian Landscape Guardians and the Taralga Landscape Guardians, worked for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, ANSTO, for 32 years and gives talks on nuclear power. Climate scepticism is the stock in trade of the Landscape Guardians. Randall Bell, president of the Victorian Landscape Guardians, said in the Melbourne Age on 3 July 2010 that claims the earth is warming are scientifically unreliable and that the idea of man-made climate change is headed for the Y2K dustbin. But we do not see the Landscape Guardians campaigning alongside Lock the Gate, the New South Wales Farmers Federation and the Greens to halt the destruction of some of the best agricultural land in New South Wales and Queensland by coal seam gas miners. We do not see them campaigning in Victoria against Premier Ted Baillieu’s decision to reopen Victoria to brown coal mining. Farmers on the best agricultural land in Gippsland now face losing their farms to dirty, inefficient brown coal mining. Is an open-cut mine a preferable landscape to a wind farm, where food can continue to be grown?

As with the Landscape Guardians, there is no information about funding or sponsorship of the Waubra Foundation. Yet money seems to be no object for its websites, campaigners, advertising, travel and media monitoring.

As I said earlier, in the Boorowa area a $300 million wind farm is being proposed. At Rye Park the Epuron energy company wants to build 80 to 110 turbines, which will generate power for 90,000 homes. But, as Sandi Keane found, there is someone with a property near Yass whose influence on governments and public opinion is huge. Besieged media boss Rupert Murdoch owns Cavan, a substantial rural property in the grazing country nearby. No other media group in Australia has run a more distorted and dishonest scare campaign about wind farms than the Murdoch group. The district of Yass has in the planning stages a larger proportion of wind farms than elsewhere in Australia. These are planned at Bango, 25 km north of Yass; Birrema, 30 km west of Yass; Rye Park, 25 km north-east of Yass; and the Yass Valley itself. There are wind farms at Caroll’s Ridge, Conroy’s Gap, Coppabella Hills and Marilba Hills.

In 2010 Family First’s own climate change sceptic, Senator Steve Fielding, initiated a Senate inquiry into so-called turbine sickness. The report was released last year. The Senate inquiry found no proof of a direct link between wind farms and the so-called wind turbine syndrome. The submission of the National Health and Medical Research Council concluded that there is no published scientific evidence to support adverse effects of wind turbines on health.

Professor Peter Seligman of the Melbourne Energy Institute also gave evidence to the inquiry. Professor Seligman spent most of his working life working on the cochlear implant. He has a PhD in electronic engineering. He understands infrasound better than most. He told Sandi Keane that the level of infrasound at the beach is far higher than that from wind farms. Beyond 360 metres the level of infrasound emitted from a wind farm, typically between one and 20 cycles per second, is below the ambient levels near a beach and below that in the central business district of any city. On the other hand, we are all subjected to far higher internally self-generated natural infrasound levels, which clearly are not a problem.

The Victorian Department of Health indicated that it had examined both peer-reviewed and validated scientific research and concluded that ‘the weight of evidence indicated that there are no direct health effects from noise.’

Dr Sarah Laurie’s evidence included evidence from Nina Pierpont, an American general practitioner who claims to be an authority on wind turbine syndrome. Pierpont is the author of a self-published book containing descriptions of the health problems of merely 10 families—that is, 38 people—in five different countries who once lived near wind turbines and who are convinced that turbines made them sick. Medical experts in Australia have said that, given that there are about 100,000 turbines around the world, her sample is too small to have any scientific value. There were no scientific controls, and the symptoms described were common in any community. Dr Laurie also tried to appeal against a proposed wind farm at Allandale East in South Australia. Her appeal failed on the basis of the same evidence from the medical community. Gary Wittert, a professor of medicine at the University of Adelaide, said there was no credible evidence that wind turbines have adverse effects on health. A recent parliamentary inquiry into wind farms in New South Wales dismissed Pierpoint’s study, particularly since her findings were not published in a peer reviewed journal. In its submission to the Senate inquiry the group Doctors for the Environment also agreed ‘there is no convincing evidence in the scientific literature of direct physiological effects occurring at sound levels commonly associated with modern wind turbines’. The building of the Waubra wind farm provided an injection of $58.4 million to the local economy through the economic activity associated with 160 local jobs. Ongoing employment from those jobs at Waubra adds a further $7.79 million each year to the local economy. These figures have been generated by the City of Ballarat using REMPLAN modelling.

Kate Redwood, a director of Hepburn Wind, said the strategy used to get community support in Daylesford included monitoring noise at those houses within two kilometres of the turbines. This successful strategy has led to the formation of a new organisation called Embark, which offers advice on the management of community projects. As a result of the Senate inquiry, public health authorities will keep up the monitoring and the wind industry will continue to improve its modelling and community relations. I commend the bills to the House.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Bird expert threatens ducks

Here's an interesting piece of irony.  Dr. Scott Petrie was featured in a CBC article "Wind turbines threaten swans, says bird expert", where the article states:

Dr. Scott Petrie said building industrial wind farms in Grand Bend, Ont., will scare the birds from their annual migration stop.
He said the province isn't considering how the 250 turbines proposed for the area will affect wildlife.

He is quoted as saying the same thing in this article almost seven years ago when the Erie Shores project was in the planning stages:
E.T. (Ted) Whitworth, Councilor Ward 1 of Norfolk County in attendance at the function commented on recent objections put forth by biologist Dr. Scott Petrie from the Long Point Waterfowl and Wetland Research Fund and representatives from Bird Studies Canada to wind turbines in Norfolk. Dr. Petrie said at a recent Norfolk County Council meeting that, in his opinion, wind turbines in the Messiah’s Corners area would alter the path of tundra swans that use the area as a staging (feeding) area on their migratory route. Councilor Whitworth said, “I’ve lived here all my life and never seen a dead swan . . . the Bird Studies Canada building that’s a 3 story, 100’ long, glass walled giant would kill more birds than a wind turbine.”
Two years after construction, there have been no swan injuries at the Erie Shores project.  In fact, a report by ornithologist Dr. James Ross, showed a thriving bird population.

Apparently, Dr. Petrie is an avid hunter (he even lists "hunter" on his resumé) and was featured in a segment of Canada in the Rough.

Thomas will be joined on today's hunt by Tim Brandt of Federal Premium Ammunition, with them will also be internationally acclaimed waterfowl biologist Scott Petrie. Scott heads up "Long Point Waterfowl Research", he and his group have significantly contributed to the health and future of waterfowl and waterfowling, not just in Long Point but throughout North America. Our Ontario duck hunting adventure begins with a wonderful public land hunt at Long Point with Thousands of ducks on the water and in the air, and winds up at the historic "Turkey Point Company" hunt club, as we take part in a traditional wetlands duck hunt with "Ducks Unlimited Canada" past president "Dr. Duncan Sinclair". 

Renewable energy developers are required to perform an Environmental Impact Study prior to receiving an authorization to proceed.  In contrast to Dr. Petrie's assertions about wind turbines and birds, the developer of the wind farm in Grand Bend, Northland Power, is undertaking a number of studies as part of its application:

Field studies are ongoing to confirm the presence, significance, sensitivity and abundance of wildlife and wildlife habitat, including:
o various bird surveys;
o bat habitat surveys;
o dens, tracks and scat surveys;
o amphibian call surveys;
o turtle and snake surveys;
o incidental observations; and,
o targeted species at risk surveys.

An Environmental Impact Study will be completed to identify potential impacts and recommend mitigation measures to minimize impacts.

If required, a permit or permits under the Ontario Endangered Species Act will be

Consultation will be undertaken with relevant First Nations and Métis communities

These studies, in turn, are subject to scrutiny by the public during a review period plus by the Ministry of the Environment.
Has anyone performed an environmental assessment of the slaughter of millions of birds by hunters such as Dr. Petrie?  Or whether shooting at them as they are resting during their migration might "scare the birds from their annual migration stop" (to quote Dr. Petrie).

Monday, 20 February 2012

Marubeni to build floating wind farm off Fukushima

The Kamisu wind farm that survived the tsunami
Here's a sequel to the story about how the Kamisu wind farm survived the tsunami that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power facility.  Once a few transmission lines were repaired, the Kamisu wind farm was back on line providing much needed power.
It's also a good example of how the Japanese government has turned to renewable energy rather than nuclear energy in the future.
Windpower Monthly
James Quilter
February 12, 2012
Marubeni plans to start developing the wind farm in March with the aim to build it off the coast of the Fukushima Prefecture.
The project will be supported by the Japanese government via the reconstruction budget from last year's tsunami. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Nippon Steel Corp and Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding are also involved.

Last year, Marubeni acquired a 49% stake in Gunfleet Sands from Dong Energy. It marks Marubeni's first stake in an offshore project.
In September, Japan’s trade ministry said it was planning a ¥10-20 billion ($130-260 million) project to develop a floating turbine in the deep waters off the northern coast.
Japan hopes to develop a 1GW floating offshore project off its northern coast by 2020. The announcement follows the passing of a renewable-energy bill in the upper house of Japan's parliament.
There is sound reasoning behind Japan’s push for offshore wind. When the tsunami struck, the Kamisu near-shore wind farm on Japan's east coast withstood the magnitude-nine earthquake and contributed vital electricity in the aftermath of the disaster.
Kamisu is located 40 metres off Ibaraki prefecture and is comprised of seven 2MW Fuji Heavy Industries wind turbines.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Steckle supports green energy

This Letter to the Editor of the Goderich Signal Star is from Mr. Paul Steckle, MP for Huron-Bruce from 1993 to 2008.
We need better, cleaner ways of producing power
Goderich Signal Star
February 15, 2012
Paul Steckle  Letter to the Editor
Dear Editor:

All communities will, from time-to-time stumble into an issue that causes division and I think it is fair to say that an issue currently dividing our community is the question of the size and appropriateness of building a sewage treatment plant. Questions of cost and the rate of anticipated growth in our community seem to cause much hand wringing and frustration for everyone. These are difficult questions and, as a result, people on all sides of the issue tend to speak with passion and apparent authority. I agree that expenditures of this magnitude require the utmost of scrutiny but I would also suggest that issues impacting on future ratepayers likewise require strict attention. Accordingly, it is not the treatment plant that has caused me to put pen to paper.

Today I would hope to weigh in on the subject of renewable energy, particularly wind power. For the sake of clarity, I make no claims to be the definitive authority on the subject but, I do believe that we must collectively look at our indiscriminate use of energy. If we continue in this pattern we must find better and cleaner ways of producing the power that we need to run our homes, cars and places of business. Sequestering of carbon is essential over the long term but, in the meantime, the current debate does nothing to bring us closer to understanding the issues at hand. Concerns, real or imagined, become real unless rebutted by reliable sources. I may or may not be that reliable source but, I wanted to take a moment to address a few concerns.

A) Wind turbines kill birds. I have heard this claim thousands of times but, the National Audubon Society tells us that wind turbines are, in all likelihood, responsible for the death of approximately two birds per year. More birds die on my kitchen window than that. When I was in Ottawa, I watched almost daily as birds met their end on the walls and windows of high-rise buildings. Are we to truly believe that windmills are that much of a threat?
B) Strobe light/flicker effect from turbine blades is bothersome. How do people in urban centres live with all the changing variations of light? From street lights and headlights, to neon and flashing signs, light is everywhere. Most reasonable people know that a wind turbine is no more offensive than any other source of light that we already see each day.
C) Turbines are noisy and offensive to the eye. In a word… rubbish. The setback requirement for current turbine construction is 550 metres based on a maximum allowable sound limit of 40 decibels (dB). I have personally visited a number of turbine sites and would concur that nothing close to 40 dB was audible at 550 metres. Aesthetics are a personal matter. I saw this in 1985 with the construction of a new power line from the Bruce Nuclear through Huron County. The plan had many people upset and, as the Warden of the County that year, I listened to every conceivable argument as to why we shouldn’t allow the lines through our backyard. Think for a moment, try and recall the last time someone spoke negatively about power lines in our community. The power lines haven’t changed, only time. Windmills are no different.
D) Turbines diminish land values. In response I would ask, based on what? Probably the best source of data on this would be the real estate people. In the Kincardine and Chatham-Kent areas (areas with a longer history of turbines), realtors will tell you that land values have actually gone up… including the land surrounding towers.
E) Negative health concerns. In October of 2009, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health issued a memo stating that, while some people may find the noise from turbines annoying, a comprehensive review of the relevant medical science found no evidence of noise induced human or health effects caused by wind turbines.

These are but a few of the arguments I hear regularly but, despite these contrary opinions, wind energy is strongly supported by all respectable polls. In July of 2010, IPSOS found that 80% - 90% of the population in Ontario felt that way. Of the remaining 10%, less than 5% strongly objected to wind turbines.

Empirical or casual knowledge is never the best premise from which to judge any issue, particularly one as complex as renewable energy. Wind power is here to stay and, like the power lines of 1985 which have been all but forgotten, we have choices to make. Let us see wind turbines as a positive step towards a greener future for our children. After all, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago but the next best time is right now.

A green energy supporter,

Paul Steckle
(Member of Parliament, Huron-Bruce, 1993-2008)
A Bluewater Taxpayer

Thursday, 16 February 2012

FUD in Listowel

The following letter was submitted by Gary Zavitz on February 12 as a Letter to the Editor of the Listowel Banner.  It was in response to this editorial and this editorial that documented the witch hunt that is going on in the area, seemingly aided by the Banner.  As of this date, the Letter has not been published.

Referring to the Feb 8 article in the Listowel Banner, it was discouraging to read of the events at the North Perth council meeting last week where a wind energy person was invited to speak to local council, yet was met with verbal and physical abuse, resulting in him being hurried out the door. How ridiculous and narrow-minded it was not to have heard the speaker out on his point. Agree or disagree, it was an opportunity missed not to have set the stage for an important community debate on wind energy facts, rather than the same old fear, uncertainty and rhetorical doubt pandered by those opposed to this form of renewable energy.

It should be recognized that Ontario is in the midst of updating its ancient electricity system and will need a variety of robust power sources. This will include clean wind energy, which can be planned, built, managed and serviced by local talent, a net-new source of income for the local economy, not to mention tax revenue.  The debt retirement charge we pay on our power bill – an unfunded liability currently at $13.4 billion which does nothing to build new electricity capacity - is not the result of solar and wind, but cost overruns in big ticket projects dating back a few decades.

My group, Friends of Wind Ontario understands that wind energy is relatively new to most Canadians. The subject matter and resulting community impact can be complex and that questions and concerns must be addressed with verifiable facts. We are like all Canadians who abide by the rules of democratic government and believe in the fundamental right of citizens to be informed and to have the opportunity to express their opinions with respect to any local developments, regardless of their views. We recognize that dialogue around the important issue of our local and regional energy future must be based on respect for all opinions and no one should be fearful of others when addressing this important topic.

Thousands of farmers and rural landowners and dozens of municipalities in Ontario are actively participating in wind energy and other renewable energy projects. The resulting jobs will be a boon to the local economy, especially for my area, hit hard by a downturn in manufacturing and having one of the highest levels of unemployment in Canada. I live just west of London and within a few years, the family house where my family has lived for over a century will be mere minutes from a planned wind farm. I am consulting regularly with the local councils and the developer on this project and can confidently say I have little concern if any, on these plans as the project moves forward.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Review of studies gives turbine debate needed balance

This is a Letter to the Editor from Paul Masotti.  Paul Masotti is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology.  He received his PhD from the University of Texas School of Public Health and his BA from Queen's University.

I read the story "Wrecking our heaven" (Jan. 9) with interest and a feeling of being let down.
This article could leave readers with the conclusions that windturbines cause ill health and are a health risk to the unborn. These conclusions are not supported by the available research and are not supported by public health agencies and the medical community. If the objectives of the Whig-Standard include both reporting and informing your audience about a health issue, I would argue that the paper failed. Possibly the following will provide what I believe is the needed balance.
Working with team members from the local public health agency, we completed a review of the international literature to find out what is known about windturbines and potential health effects. We improved upon similar studies by broadening our scope to include documents from community-based organizations, peer-reviewed scientific journals, grey and self-published research, government and industry technical guidelines, and noise and health research done in other settings.
It is correct that there are few good quality research studies that evaluate potential health effects from exposure to windturbines. This has resulted in a variety of case series and self-reporting studies with problems that would earn them a failing grade in a university-based research methods class. The designs of these studies could not be used to reach a cause-and-effect conclusion (for instance, that exposure will likely result in ill health).
At this point, it may help to present two examples (one is the Ontario self-reporting study) with different methods and different results. I will follow these examples with some of the results and take-home messages we generated based upon our review.
In a study of 725 Dutch residents, Van den Berg et al., (2008) evaluated factors associated with windturbine annoyance, how they perceived the windfarm, and self-reported health. Strengths of the study included the large number of participants (725) who were randomly selected from 50,375 residences, and placing people in one of four increasing noise exposure groups ranging from 25 to 45 decibels. (Note: in evaluating whether something will cause ill health, we would generally expect more of the something, such as noise, will result in more frequent or severe illness.)
A major strength was the "masking" of the study, so subjects did not know the focus was on windturbines, and an analysis of people who declined to participate.
A main study result was that health effects -- chronic disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, migraines, psychological distress, stress and difficulty falling asleep -- were not associated with windturbine sound levels. The results did indicate that both sleep interruption and "annoyance" were associated with increasing noise levels. However, an additional and interesting finding was that the people who lived in the highest noise category, 45 decibels, were less annoyed than those in the lower noise locations. Additional research revealed that people in this category were receiving financial benefits from the operation of the windturbines.
In the self-reporting survey, adverse health effects with industrial windturbines and the need for vigilance (2010), Krogh, Gillis, Kouwen distributed health survey contact flyers to people who lived near windfarms. The flyers included statements such as victims suffering from adverse health effects. People who responded were provided with a survey that included a symptoms/ illness list where they could check off symptoms they believed appeared or worsened after the windturbines were made operational. People also provided the distance to the nearest windturbine.
Problems with this study that make the results questionable include allowing people's opinions about windturbines to influence their identification and participation in the study; allowing more than one person per residence; and using a symptom check list versus asking them to report symptoms. In addition, the language in the flyers and the report clearly indicated a lack of scientific objectivity.
A main result in this study was that 80.3% (106 of 132 people) reported adverse health effects they attributed to the windturbines. Given the language in the flyers, one interesting result was that 26 people reported no health effects. To address this, we looked at the average distance from the nearest windturbine between the ill-health and no-health-effects groups as an approximation of noise level exposure, since decibel levels were not provided and knowing that noise levels decrease over distances.
The report indicated that there was a 4.5-metre average difference between the two groups (820.6 metres away from a turbine for the ill-health group and 816.1 metres distant for the group reporting no ill health). If this were a well-conducted, large-sample study, this insignificant difference would suggest that both groups were exposed to the same noise emissions and consequently that health differences between the two groups are not related to noise from the windturbines.
The research suggests these take-home messages:
The windturbine and health research, research on windturbine noise emissions, and supporting evidence from the noise and health research do not provide evidence and do not suggest the likelihood that windturbine noise that meets government guidelines will result in ill health. The research does indicate that self-reported differences in subjective health complaints between people exposed or not exposed to noise are dependent upon the person's perceived control over the noise and were independent of the noise level itself.
The World Health Organization has described annoyance as a health effect, and the windturbine research indicates that as windturbine noise increases, higher percentages of people report being very annoyed. This research also indicates that the percentage of people who become fairly or highly annoyed is low (6.7% at 37-40 decibels; 15% at 40 decibels) and that other subjective individual factors that equally explain annoyance include: whether one can see the windturbines, fear, culture, ability to control the noise, clinical and sub-clinical mental health issues, perceived importance and financial benefits. Given this, we cannot say the annoyance is the result of the windturbine noise alone.
The case series and other studies that are highly reported on the Internet cannot be used to reach conclusions of cause and effect and most had significant methodology problems that decrease confidence in results and conclusions.
We need to decide what noise levels we will permit under different conditions and based upon good health evidence. As part of this, there is need of a formal complaint-resolution mechanism that can provide effective remedies for people exposed to levels that exceed the guidelines. This should involve sound measurements at the residences and a predetermined resolution process that includes shutting down the windturbines under some conditions.
I would like to finish with results from a study that seems relevant to the last sentence in the Jan. 9 article: "They are wrecking our heaven. Don't let them do it."
The grounded theory study by Pedersen, Hallberg and Waye, (2007) evaluated people's perceptions of windturbines and the purpose of land. An interesting result of this study was the identification of two different groups of people. One saw the countryside as a place for economic growth and where one must accept disturbances typical of the countryside such as: flies, odour from farms, and (in that study) also noise from windturbines. The second group placed more value on their home environment as a peaceful, quiet place where they create a home versus the home being just a place to live.
Those in the second group were more likely to feel the windturbines were an intrusion and to express feelings of anger, uneasiness, fatigue and negative emotions, and this affected wellbeing and quality of life. They also were more likely to believe they did not have enough input or influence regarding the planning of the windfarms and that they were misled regarding the impact of the windturbines on them.
My question is this: would this discussion be taking place if the windturbines were the same size as telephone poles?
Paul Masotti Kingston

Sunday, 12 February 2012

I am sick of anti-wind propaganda

Here's another great cross-post from Paul Gipe
February 8, 2012
By Paul Gipe

Yes, anti-wind hysteria has made me sick. I got queasy in my stomach when I thought of the 150,000 wind turbines operating worldwide and still no epidemic of death and disease had yet broken out despite the sickening anti-wind hype in the English-speaking world. I worried myself sick that a new black death would strike Germany and Spain who together have one-third of the world's wind turbines. I fretted even more that Europe would collapse in panic and mayhem from its 100,000 wind turbines, many now operating for decades.
Why then are Germans, Danes, and Spaniards not falling by the thousands to dementia and disease? Are they made of sterner stuff? Or is it simply that they don't speak English and can't read all the propaganda fostered by the anti-renewables lobby.
It is the anti-renewables lobby--it's not just anti-wind anymore, they're after solar too--that makes me sick.
It made me sick to learn a few days before the Ontario, Canada election that the Power Workers Union was caught with their metaphorical pants down. It seems that the pro-nuclear, pro-coal lobby group was uncovered funding an anti-wind, and anti-renewables campaign of commentary in newspapers, on the radio, and on the internet.
I felt a lot better after the disclosure forced this unethical campaign to close its doors--at least for now.
I am feeling much better now too, after learning that a disgruntled citizen sued an anti-wind group in Ontario for violating the province's election laws by openly endorsing an anti-wind candidate.
I am nearly cured after learning that a newspaper sued an American anti-wind group for flagrantly violating their copyright, stealing, and then editing the newspaper's articles to suit the group's agenda.
So, the prognosis is good. I am feeling much better that reason will ultimately prevail--even in the English-speaking world.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

People divide people - not legislation
February 08, 2012
Robert Knox Letter to the Editor

Here's the original article.

In his recent opinion piece, our MPP, Jim Wilson, says the Green Energy Act is dividing Ontario. It isn't. People divide communities not legislation, particularly if the legislation provides opportunities for people to provide input, to object to submissions and to appeal decisions, as is the case with the Green Energy Act. 
Mr. Wilson, who is an experienced, knowledgeable, and principled legislator knows this is so. Mr. Wilson also knows that municipalities never had the authority to decide where turbines and solar panels can go, anymore than they can establish their own building codes, ignore provincial public health and education regulation, or determine policies for electrical generation and distribution.
Municipalities can decide where hot dog stands go, but a hot dog stand is not part of a provincial wide electrical system. Even hot dog stands have to respect clear municipal bylaws approved by the appropriate provincially established authority and impartially applied, provincial health regulations, provincial building codes and provincial commercial rules.
Most of Ontario's operational wind projects were approved before the Green Energy Act was in place. Municipalities participated in their development by applying Provincial rules, overseen by Provincial regulators including the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, the Ministry of Energy, the Ontario Energy Board and Hydro One Networks Inc.
What's changed? Nothing, except now we have clear and consistent province-wide rules and oversight and approval processes for renewable energy projects.
Wind opponents who use misinformation and disrupt legitimate community consultations divide communities. Stigmatizing foreign owned developers divides communities.
Robert Knox

And here's the reference to the original Jim Wilson opinion piece.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Ontario’s power glut means possible nuclear plant shutdowns

Surplus base-load generation (SBG) has become an issue lately.  It occurs when Ontario's "must run" electricity sources (predominantly nuclear and hydro but also wind and solar) exceed Ontario's minimum demand.  SBG typically occurs on weekends or late evenings when Ontario's tie-lines can't export the surplus.

The IESO has formed a committee (SE-91) to find solutions to the problem.  Their initial proposal was a band-aid approach to curtail wind production during periods of SBG.  The root cause of the problem, of course, is that Ontario's nuclear capacity has gradually grown even as the province's demand has flattened.  Fortunately, Paul Murphy, the CEO of the IESO, has the vision and courage to speak out against the nuclear lobby.

The original article is here.

The Ottawa Citizen
February 6, 2012
Ian MacLeod

OTTAWA — For at least eight hours Monday, Ontario is once again forecast to produce more electricity than it consumes, and the recurring glut has one top energy executive warning of temporary nuclear power plant shutdowns.
“We have largely been able to avoid nuclear shutdowns to deal with the (surplus) conditions but this may not be the case in the near future,” Paul Murphy, head of the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), recently told an industry gathering.
His comment is raising questions about Ontario’s plans to boost nuclear power as the province’s chief source of energy.
Nuclear-generated power supplies about 57 per cent of Ontario’s electricity. Based on the province’s assumption that demand will grow moderately over the long term, multi-billion-dollar projects are contemplated for new reactors and refurbishments of existing ones.
The problem is, unlike wind and some other forms of power production, nuclear reactors can’t easily be turned off when demand for electricity drops.
Returning them to full operating status can take two to four days and sometimes longer, making nuclear the least flexible portion of the supply mix at a time when demand is increasingly finicky.
And since electricity can’t be stored and must be used as soon as it is generated, the resulting “surplus baseload generation” in the system has to be exported to neighbouring provinces and states, usually at a bargain price, until the IESO can rebalance supply with demand.
In some cases, “negative pricing” is required. Ontario electricity producers shelled out $35 million in the first six months of last year alone to get neighbouring jurisdictions to take surplus power, up sharply from the same period in 2010, when negative pricing amounted to $4.2 million.
The supply surpluses have become increasingly common since 2005 and are expected to continue for at least a few more years, said Murphy.
Yet some surplus periods, which are forecast based on weather predictions and historic patterns, sometimes only last for a few hours.
“We need to find alternative ways to address (surpluses) to avoid using a multiday nuclear shutdown to address surplus conditions that could last for only a few short hours,” said Murphy.
“Given the potential of quick swings from surplus to shortage, those actions could have greater consequences in the future if the shutdown nuclear unit is not available by the time we need it again.”
Last June 8, for example, he said Ontario was exporting “everything we could to keep supply in line only to declare an energy emergency alert just 12 hours later. Demand climbed to the point where we were using every available megawatt in Ontario to meet that demand.”
Murphy’s remark about potentially and temporarily shutting down power reactors casts doubt on some fundamental assumptions of the province’s energy planning, says Mark Winfield, an associate professor in the faculty of environmental studies at York University.
“Given the province is theoretically committed to building a new nuclear plant and is considering refurbishment decisions on Bruce B (reactors), the implication is, one, you shouldn’t be adding supply on that scale and, two, if you’re going to add supply, it probably should be supply that you can turn off when you don’t need it,” says Winfield, who also co-chairs the school’s Sustainable Energy Imitative.
“It’s the IESO whose job it is to have their finger on the pulse of the system and also to be looking ahead (and it is) basically saying that potentially some pretty fundamental assumptions underlying planning for the system for the past decade need to revisited.”
Contributing factors to the excess supply include the global economic slump, consumer and industry conservation measures. and the Ontario economy’s transition away from manufacturing and resource-processing.
Seasonally, the situation typically worsens in spring and fall, when furnaces and air conditioners are turned off, and spring runoff forces hydro facilities to “spill” the water rather than store it for peak periods.
Additional factors will be the return to service of two refurbished reactors at the Bruce generation station near Kincardine and the increasing quantities of renewable energy coming on to the grid under Ontario’s Green Energy Act.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Canada moves to 6th place globally for new installed wind energy capacity in 2011

Here's a press release from CanWEA:


Global wind energy grows by 21 per cent despite economic challenges

Canada moves to 6th place globally for new installed wind energy capacity in 2011

Ottawa, Canada, February 8th, 2012 – Canada ranks 6th globally in terms of new installed wind energy capacity and global wind power capacity grew by 21 per cent in 2011, according to annual statistics released by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).  The wind industry installed a record level of just over 41,000 MW of new clean, reliable wind power in 2011, bringing the total installed capacity globally to more than 238,000 MW at the end of last year. Today, about 75 countries worldwide have commercial wind power installations, with 22 of them already passing the 1 GW level.
Canada’s wind energy industry enjoyed a record year in 2011 with approximately 1,267 MW of new wind energy capacity added to provincial grids, representing an investment of $3.1 billion and creating 13,000 person-years of employment.  Canada ended 2011 with a total of 5,265 MW of wind energy installed capacity – placing Canada 9th globally for cumulative capacity.  In 2011, new wind energy projects were built and commissioned in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
“Wind energy in Canada enjoyed a record year in 2011, surpassing the 5, 000 MW milestone. Canada, and in particular Ontario, is emerging as a very competitive destination for wind energy investment globally. Maintaining that position will require continued commitments to aggressive targets for wind energy development and a stable policy framework. As Canada continues to renew its electricity generation resources, wind energy will play an ever-increasing part in delivering reliable, economic and clean electricity”, said Robert Hornung, President of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.
Canada’s wind energy industry is on pace to easily surpass 10,000 MW of total installed capacity by 2015
2012 is expected to be another record year for wind development in Canada with approximately 1,500 MW of new developments expected to come online in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. With similar or higher levels of growth expected over the next four years, Canada’s wind energy industry is on pace to easily surpass 10,000 MW of total installed capacity by 2015 – keeping the country on track to meet CanWEA’s national WindVision target of supplying 20 per cent of  Canada’s electricity needs by 2025.

Wind by the numbers

-          Canada is the 9th largest producer of wind energy in the world with current installed capacity at 5,265 MW – producing enough power to meet about 2.3 per centof Canada’s total electricity demand.
-          Canada enjoyed a record year in 2011 with the addition of 1,267 MW of new wind energy capacity to provincial grids, representing an investment of $3.1 billionand creating 13,000 person-years of employment.
-          2011 was also a record year for new wind energy installations in Ontario with more than 500 MW
installed by the end of year.
-          More than 5,000 MW of wind energy projects are already contracted to be built in Canada over the next five years.  

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Iowa considering feed-in-tariffs

This is a cross-post from Paul Gipe.  Paul is probably the world's expert on feed-in-tariffs.  His website lists the feed-in-tariff programs of over 50 countries.  It's also a great place to become educated about wind power and view pictures of wind turbines, old and new, large and small.
February 07, 2012
Paul Gipe

Senators in the heartland state of Iowa have introduced a modest feed-in tariff bill into the state legislature.
The move is the first serious effort to introduce a system of feed-in tariffs anywhere in the US during the current legislative session.
Introduced by four Iowa state senators representing the majority party and one senator from the minority party, SF 225 calls for a limited system of differentiated tariffs for renewable power plants less than 20 MW in size.
Senators Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge; Joe Bolkcom , D-Iowa City (Chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee); Robert M. Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids; Hubert Houser, R-Carson; and John P. (Jack) Kibbie, D-Emmetsburg introduced SF 225 to "encourage the development of utility-owned and customer-owned alternate (sic) renewable energy production facilities."
The proposal is modest even by US standards, limiting the amount of new capacity under the program to half of retail load growth.
Yet there are several novel aspects of the Iowa proposal. While not a proposal encouraging local ownership specifically, SF 225 does limit program participation only to projects with a majority of ownership within Iowa.
More significant, however, SF 225 is the first major effort to introduce wind tariffs differentiated by wind resource intensity in the US. SF 225 directs the Iowa Utility Board (IUB) to determine the wind tariff at each project site based on the "wind speed at the project location". This requirement is unheard of and if implemented would catapult Iowa to the forefront of modeling wind tariffs in North America.
To qualify for contracts

  • Projects must be in Iowa,
  • 51% of the ownership must reside in Iowa, be a cooperative, or be a school district in the state,
  • Have arranged financing, and
  • Have interconnection agreements in place.
Below is summary of SF 225 program elements.

  • Program cap: 50% of retails sales "growth"
  • Project size cap: 20 MW
  • Program review: every two years
  • Contract term: 20 years
  • Tariff calculation: cost of generation plus utility's regulated rate of return
  • Differentiation: by technology and project size
  • Wind tranches:
    • <500 kW
    • >500 kW<20 MW
  • Wind resource differentiation: tariff determined for each representative site
  • Solar PV tranches:
    • <20 kW
    • >20 kW<20 MW
  • Biomass from crop and Ag waste, & Hydro tranches:
    • <500 kW
    • >500 kW<20 MW
  • Reporting requirements: annual
  • Administration: Iowa Utilities Board
The Senate's Commerce Sub-committee will hear the bill Thursday, 9 February, 2012.